New DC Poll Shows Support For Mushroom Decriminalization

The Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC (DNDC) released the results of a new poll on April 21 that showed support for mushroom decriminalization in Washington DC. The “Initiative 81, the “Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020,” has enough support to pass in the District of Columbia according to a survey completed by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3).

The poll sponsored by the New Approach PAC demonstrated that a majority of DC voters support Initiative 81, a measure that would make enforcement of existing restrictions on plant medicines or entheogens among the Metropolitan Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priorities. Of those polled, 51% support the initiative based on the text of the measure alone. When presented with a plain-language explanation, that support grows to 60% and continues to increase and solidify as voters learn more.

Here’s the initial language that didn’t have as positive of a response:

ENTHEOGENIC PLANT AND FUNGUS POLICY ACT OF 2020. If enacted, this Initiative would: Make the investigation and arrest of adults for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, possessing, and/or engaging in practices with entheogenic plants and fungi among the Metropolitan Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priorities; and codify that the people of the District of Columbia call upon the Attorney General for the District of Columbia and the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia to cease prosecution of residents of the District of Columbia for these activities

Here’s the easier to understand language:

It would change current law having to do with plant medicines known as entheogens, which include substances
like psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”; cacti which contain mescaline, iboga, which contains
ibogaine and ayahuasca, which contains DMT. The measure would make investigation and arrest of adults for
non-commercial growing, gathering, and gifting of these plant medicines among the lowest law enforcement
priorities for the District of Columbia. The measure instructs the DC Attorney General to not prosecute people
arrested for entheogens. The measure does not legalize these substances, allow their retail sales, or permit
marketing of any products containing these substances

One issue that was identified was the lack of knowledge about the products. The survey determined that fewer than one-quarter have a close tie to someone who has used psilocybin; very few have personally used ayahuasca, mescaline or iboga, or know someone who has. Having said that, many DC voters have a connection to
someone who has experienced the type of mental health issues the substances can treat.

Among the more than 800 likely DC voters reached by phone as part of this poll, prioritizing law enforcement’s role in reducing violent crime and protecting personal freedom were consistently cited as top reasons for supporting Initiative 81.

These results come as the DNDC faces unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Necessary social-distancing measures, including DC Mayor Murial Bowser’s stay-at-home order, have made traditional in-person petitioning and signature collection impossible. To preserve ballot access during this public health emergency, DNDC has requested that the DC Board of Elections and DC Council find alternatives to the in-person petition process. Time is running out for DNDC to qualify for the November ballot with 30,000 signatures needed by Monday, July 6th.

“This poll demonstrates the broad support for Initiative 81 in the District of Columbia and reaffirms the importance of putting the “Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020,” on the November ballot,” said Melissa Lavasani, the proposer of Initiative 81. “Despite the current public health crisis, DC voters have made clear that they are ready to change how DC approaches entheogens. Now our campaign must make sure that voters have the opportunity to do so.”

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